Make sense of dollar weed


Many people have honored their ancestors by researching their family history. Mike McGrath speaks with an author who travelled back in time to learn the secret of his great great great grandmother’s rose. Plus dollarweed, pennywort and answers to all your growing questions.

Question of the Week:

“My gardens and lawn are being taken over by pennywort. How can I get rid of it? Our yard has a lot of toads, lizards, tree frogs, butterflies, and hummingbirds, so I don’t want to use anything toxic. I have tried to control it with Roundup, but nothing kills this stuff! Help!”

— Bonnie in Centreville, Delaware

How to deal with pennywort, dollar weed and other woes of wetness »

Highlights from show for June 21, 2014:

How to get better blooms out of your hydrangea

Megan from Glenolden, Pennsylvania has three beautiful hydrangeas outside her home that she has had for a whoping eight years, but this passed year they failed to bloom, thanks to an incredibly harsh Pennsylvania winter. She explains to Mike that there are small green buds on the plants. Megan would love to hear Mike’s suggestions on the best way to give new life to her flowers. Mike gladly informed Megan to not cut back her hydrangeas, but to allow the little bit of green growth that has formed on her flowers flourish. Don’t feed it with chemical fertilizers or mulch it. The best is to give it a little bit of compost to produce some wonderful blooms next year. Mike’s instinct is that the plants will definitely bloom better than ever; let see if that rings true next spring!

Caring for fig trees

Conway, hailing from southern Tennessee would love to get Mike’s advice on what should be done with his precious fig trees. That infamous 2013 winter ravaged most gardens throughout the US, and Conway’s trees were badly damaged, but they didn’t die, informs Mike. Only the top growth of the tree was taken; Conway’s fig trees can still be salvaged by actually digging up the entire tree and dividing the root system into three sections. Each section should have a few green shoots on them, and Mike tells Conway to simply replant these roots in three different locations, so three different trees will sprout. This in turn, will make for a better environment for nice fig growth. The more figs, the merrier!

Special guest: Andréa di Robilant

Mike spoke with Andréa di Robilant, author of Chasing the Rose, a wonderful journey to find a very special rose growing on his ancestors estate. Robilant tells engrossing stories about his colorful family. The conversation is romantic, whimsical and you might learn a little about hybrid roses.

Deterring birds

Peggy from Pennsylvania called up Mike for some tips and tricks on how to prevent pesky birds from eating her peaches and pears. Peggy was thinking about getting some netting to protect her fruits; but she has heard that may not be the best option for fruit trees. Mike suggests a scarecrow that will automatically motion-activate a sprinkler that will get rid of nosy squirrels, birds, or even neighbors. This is the best non-toxic alternative to pesticides as it will not change the flavor, shape, or color of the fruit. MIke suggests to also use the netting with the automatic sprinkler to keep the pests at bay.

Misused mulch

Joe from Ohio has a nice red bud tree that he planted about 6 years ago and he has issues with it not budding this year. Mike asks Joe some background questions regarding how and where he planted it; it wasn’t mulched, but there is some old black mulch surrounding the trunk, nor was it planted in a lawn that was treated with herbicides. Joe additionally informs Mike that it grew quite a bit last year, about 2 feet on all the branches, but this year, all those branches are dead. Mike suggests that Joe should probably get rid of the old black mulch and get some rock phosphate and cover the base of the tree with it and then cover that with about an inch of soil. This will encourage blooming throughout the seasons, as rock phosphate is rich with nutrients for the roots. Mike tells Joe to stay away from pruning it as well. This will allow for sufficient blooming and his red bud tree will be good as new next spring.

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